That title is a play on words and I'll tell you why shortly, but first, I want to explain the first half (and more obvious meaning) of the title, which is that July has buzzed past in a flash. I don't know about you, but I feel compelled to ask how it's already the end of the month. It just started!
Because July felt so speedy to me, I have decided to keep this post somewhat text-light and picture-heavy. If a picture is worth so many words, well, that's the time we have, isn't it? And I know the world generally prefers images to text these days, so today is a day to cater to the masses.
I will still zoom through some 4C Updates:
In the month of July we have hosted a photography workshop (and others) and purchased a new audio editing software (Logic Pro X, mainly chosen by our Tech Specialist Alec). We have been gifted a loom (incredible, see the photos, it's wild), made some advances in our approach which have well improved productivity, brought on 2 new bright and lovely volunteers who will be helping with projects and hosting workshops from their knowledgeable selves, sent back a TV for repair after much battling and ALSO sent back a 3D Printer for repair after much battling (but to be fair, very good service on their part, just battling with the machine. Thank you Mindkits! You rock) and much more. It's been a good time, a bad time, a funny time, a sad time, and mainly it's been a time.
A big highlight for me at this time in the 4C Centre is:
Our steering group. They are doing some awesome work in planning and making the place more secure and better to use- writing up fair use policies, asking different companies out in the world for their off-cuts, and plotting out a way to maximize storage for materials in the Centre- they've been aboslutely rocking it. The steering group is the core of the special place that is the 4C Centre.
And that brings me to the title of the post. The second half of it's meaning is about a new project that we (the members and myself) are working on all together. We are designing an Escape Room from scratch! From the theme to the layout to the puzzles, all the way to the part where we actually invite people to come use it, and fundraise for our happy little makerspace. It has got a lot of traction within the centre and a lot of enthusiasm, and we have an expert who will be helping us with the mechanical side of making the puzzles work interactively (and be quite cool, really)!
In my next post I'll give some more insight to the process of that... as well as the actual next steps with our 24 hour launch, which is all meetings and decisions and underfoot but will be a reality soon enough.
All the best,
In my last entry I mentioned a thing known as "Member Prize Season" which coincidentally is also the title of this post and also happens to be a made up thing by my brain trying to figure out a good way to reward positive behaviour while engaging our young people at the makerspace.
My thinking lead me to the final conclusion that I would hold a competition for each month of our NZ winter, June, July and August. For our first month, we chose the theme "Most Creative Member Project" to get our members amped and thinking creatively (one of our 4 C's)!
As it goes with most seemingly brilliant ideas, I was very enthusiastic and launched in head-first. I have the tendency to do that, I must admit. I did the planning required to get the competition off of the ground, I communicated with my colleagues to let them know what I was thinking and I went ahead and sent out the mass email to our members encouraging them to craft something wonderful. The incentive was a $150.00 dollar gift card which in my opinion is really enticing and would've inspired younger me to write a song about global climate change or something in hopes of both making and impact and winning the competition.
Surprisingly (to me), there were no song entries about making the world a better place. There were however entries of artistic nature, which always makes me happy. Choosing the winner was meant to be a simple process between my colleagues and I but as we sat there looking at the few but inspiring entries we had, we struggled to make a choice.
How do you look at pieces of a young person's soul and decide which one should win a gift card? It's actually really, really difficult. I want to give everyone a prize and tell them all that they are bright and shining stars and that their work is the most wonderful I've seen. I want to uplift each person that comes through our doors and encourage only positivity in their hearts. Then there is the reality of the world and that is one that isn't a rainbow-filled butterfly den. It is sometimes a little cold and a little hard-edged to say the least. It's a beautiful place, don't get me wrong, but it can feel like it chews you up sometimes, especially for adolescents who are trying to make their place and find themselves and their passions. It's hard when you create something and someone says "you could've done better than that" or "that's not what we're looking for".
It's hard not to win. It actually is.
But it's part of life. And what we really want to learn from these experiences, or what I really want to see our members learn, is resilience. The ability to get back up and keep creating. To keep drawing or painting or designing or engineering or whatever it is that they enjoy and see light in. To be proud enough of what they make to know it has worth and value without it being "valued" as the prize winner by someone else who honestly doesn't have the right to take that away from them.
In conclusion, you may be wondering what we chose as our project winner, so I will tell you. It was an epic lampshade design, previously featured in my last post- but reimagined into a more effective and improved version of the previous design. It is truly cool.
Our second place winner was a lovely sequence of drawings of animals which are really well done. I am proud of both of the prize winners! Pictures to come.
It was not an easy decision and the truth is, they were all good. Even through the biased eyes of a passionate soul- I did my best to shed the bias of appreciation I feel for all self-expression and be a "critic" which is so not my thing clearly but when I stepped into that place and put that hat on, so to speak, I still thought all the entries were good. So there!
Our next competition has now started, and is a lot less emotionally asking of me- I saved myself the pain this time around. It's "Most Member Referrals" for the month of July. I am keen to just tally a number and be done with it at the end of the month. I reckon this one is a win-win situation.
I learned a lot about myself and about rejection and about creativity and about how hard it is to be a critic of self-expression and I ALSO learned that I will never ever pursue an alternate career in doing reviews of people's art. So it was a really good experience for me personally! I will say, if you decide to embark upon a similar journey, I recommend a more quantifiable competition to get the ball rolling. Even so, it was well worth it and I will be revising it and doing it again in future with a bit more planning still.
Thank you for reading and see you soon,
It's Thursday afternoon. From my vantage point at the main communal work table that sits at the heart of our centre, I can see our three Ultimaker 3D printers glowing various colours at me through the glass panes that house them.
We have a glass walled room we fondly call "the printing room" which is in every way an unexceptional title but does a reasonable job of describing what goes on in there. 3D printing is a big element of the printing room, but it does also house some lovely Inventables CNC routers, a Glowforge laser cutter and many other fun toys and tools.
The glowing lights on 2 of the printers that are in my line of vision, however, are not behaving. They are an ominous red colour and I know that it isn't because they are happily chugging along. One reads "Er/14" while the other boasts an error of an even higher degree- good old Error 18.
This is a perfect example of a commonplace occurrence at the Centre. Like many other techie makerspaces before it as well as those to follow, it has incredible pieces of hardware which are also delicate and at times, downright fickle.
How do we cater to our tantrum-prone (but again, absolutely magical when functioning) technology?
We Google, Youtube, contact support, throw our hands up in the air and repeat. Eventually we get it going again and it feels like a grand success, which is funny because if you think about it, originally upon purchasing the equipment it was expected to be effective. We understand though, nothing is perfect. Especially with new technology that has recently emerged it is bound to require regular updating and tweaking, so after accepting that as reality, the glowing red lights lose some of their daunting shine, becoming just a slice of another day's work.
Fortunately in our case we do have a staff member who is not myself that knows much more about technology as a background than I do. I am passionate about the space and will always try, but our Tech Specialist can often come through and do the aforementioned process (googling, youtubing, contacting support etc.) and so I only bare witness to the struggle. Still, I always have at least two tabs open for troubleshooting something- it's a never ending road.
If you operate or are involved in using any of these machines and haven't yet discovered www.instructables.com I highly recommend it. It has specific tutorials for fixing your fickle printer/laser/cnc friends. It also has amazing ideas and inspiration for projects galore. The site offers online "workshops" which you enrol in for free and then go through step by step.
On another note, something really whimsical and wonderful that I experience in this space on a regular basis is that I'll leave for the day while members are still here creating, and when I come back and turn on the lights for the first time the next morning, there is often something new, quirky and exciting to see.
I really liked the one pictured above that I found yesterday morning. It was hanging with a sticky note that said "Lamp Prototype". It's awesome to see young people creating things, exploring different mediums and being generally inquisitive about life. At the end of the day that is what makes my job so meaningful to me.
It is a common happening that I come in and find something cute or funny, bright or meaningful, witty or wild or just downright clever has been crafted overnight. Our centre is open for members until 9pm currently, but they don't get locked out, so they are able to stay even later if they don't exit the main door. Luckily for those moments, there is a tidy little kitchen are as well as toilets in the Centre so they could easily stay up and work on projects.
For the younger of our members they don't stay late, but sometimes those in their 20's can be found here after hours. I know for myself that I am a night person and get a creative spur of energy or emotion to make art generally in the evening, or sometimes even late at night, so it's great to be able to accommodate those like myself as well as the early risers who like a good morning project. So far within the age group I haven't found any true early bird attendees, but if anyone comes to express that they wish they could come in at 6 AM, that will be the next adjustment to the centre hours. See future posts for updates on going 24 hours a day- the next big leap we are planning on taking, so that all members over 18 will have full time access. It will require some security measures which we are working out, but my hope is to roll it out during this NZ winter.
Tune in to the next post to hear about "Member Prize Season", a fun and really interestingly resulting initiative to spice up the chilly winter months.
Thank you for reading!
If you've gotten this far but haven't read the entire "about" section, you may be wondering what this is. Which is completely fair. I'll tell you. The entirety of this blog is dedicated to spillings about our not-for-profit youth makerspace known as the 4C Centre. It's a magical little dot on the map somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere in the heart of a city known as Christchurch, which you may or may not be familiar with. Our makerspace however you are likely not to be familiar with yet- but you soon will be, so don't worry.
The whole idea of this place started in the mind of Josie Ogden-Schroeder, YMCA Christchurch's CEO: a bright, bold and inspiring human being who dreamed and schemed this into existence over the course of a couple of years. She had help along the way in various moments but largely this was her brainchild, project, baby, initiative- standing closely by the mission statement that the YMCA boasts, "investing in the next generation".
The 4C Centre is a place where young people from all walks of life between the ages of 15-25- that vulnerable time of life that we all know can be severely challenging- can come join up and get an access card to the space all day every day (well, working on the full 24 hour bit but we will get to that in a later post!) and create all sorts of wonderful things.
We have: 3D Printers, CNC routers, Laser cutters, Virtual reality, so many computers, full adobe creative suite, flashy cameras and microphone for making movies, podcasts, youtube videos and so on. The list is immense and frankly I don't even have a full grasp on the potential of creation here. I try daily to understand but it's infinite and infinity is a difficult concept to grasp even if we think we get it. It wows us again and again. It's one of those weird things in life that feel just so much bigger than we (and it is just that).
The name of the 4C Centre comes from the 4 main qualities which are most relevant to the current job market: Communication, Curiosity, Critical Thinking and Creativity.
We aim to grow these qualities in all of the young people who walk through our door by giving them the best tools and resources, workshops, mentors and friendly smiles. Sometimes just a bit of a sit-down and chat about what's going on in their lives is the most helpful thing we can do.
So why am I blogging about this place?
Lots of crazy things happen here and they are so freaking cool that they deserve to be recorded in the database of the world. Also for those out there who are a. already involved in a makerspace, b. want to create or get involved with one or c. have any interest in them whatsoever (or d. are not interested per se but could use a bit of inspiration in their lives) THIS IS FOR YOU. I'm here to recount all of our failures as well as successes, what works, what doesn't, what makes this place have heart and soul and what seems to cause spells of silence in what should be a lively place.
So I really hope you enjoy this, or find your questions answered. If you have specific Q's though, I would love an email! If you send an email I will get back to you. If I get enough questions, I will make a blog post dedicated to answering them all, keeping them anonymous. If I keep getting questions, it will become a regular post.
Thank you for reading this and good luck with your inspiration. Don't give up, fail fast, and keep putting your soul into projects that fulfill you- it won't let you down at the end of it all.